Are ball-rolling (Scarabaeini, Gymnopleurini, Sisyphini) and tunnelling scarabaeine dung beetles equally choosy about the size of ingested dung particles?

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2005
Authors:P. Holter, Scholtz C. H.
Journal:Ecological Entomology
Keywords:Ball-rollers, Dung beetles, food exploitation, particle feeding, rollers, Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae, telecoprids

1. The maximum size of ingested particles was determined in 11 species of ball-rolling, adult dung beetle (Scarabaeidae: Scarabaeinae) by mixing small latex or glass balls of known diameter into their food. The tribes Scarabaeini, Gymnopleurini, and Sisyphini (four, four, and three species respec- tively) were represented, with mean body sizes ranging from 0.33 to 4.0 g fresh weight. 2. Only particles with maximum diameters of 4–85 mm were ingested. Hence rollers, like other known beetles feeding on fresh dung, filter out larger, indiges- tible plant fragments and confine ingestion to small particles of higher nutritional value. 3. The maximum diameter of ingested particles increased significantly with body weight, whereas taxon (tribe) had no additional effect. Because big rollers accept larger particles than do tunnellers (which make dung stores for feeding and breeding in the soil immediately below the pat) of similar weight, the slope of the diameter-against-weight regression for rollers was significantly higher than that found earlier for tunnellers. 4. An explanation could be that a typical food ball made by a roller is con- siderably smaller than the amount of dung available to a feeding tunneller of the same size. If the roller were as choosy about particle size as the tunneller, it might not get enough food. This applies to large rollers in particular because their food balls contain a higher proportion of coarse fibres than those made by small species.

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